Tag Archives: hamilton

Where your name is spoken

Looking Westward, a drawing of mine from a few years ago…. Raven is a bird close to my heart.

What a winter we are weathering.  Not for the normal reasons which might lead to a bout of winter weariness such as darkness or the ice and snow (we’ve had little of either, though we do suffer our fair share of a seemingly endless milky-gray pearlescence, which is a nice, wordy way of saying ‘day to day dismal’.)

Instead, there seems to be a general sense of malaise in all corners, at least to my winter-wearied eyes.  The political climate of late is one I am deeply committed to keeping track of, though how to do so and still nurture my rich inner world is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  (I am up to the challenge.)  All told, through this winter’s darkness, both literal and metaphorical, I’ll admit to having had to dig quite deeply to find any light lately within my heart- physically, creatively.  Some days I have felt quite extinguished indeed.  It’s been a hard time, ‘I don’t mind tellin’ you.’  

But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve and all is not lost, fear not!  I am back to running the local village paths once again more routinely, just in recent days, no matter the weather! This morning I awoke with the clearest head I have had in months, the cobwebs having been cleared from my seratonin-deprived brain by just a few short, but successful hard runs around my neighborhood.  I could nearly weep with joy for the returning of this source of bliss and emotional sustenance in my life.

While running has not been available to me, walking still has.  Our dogs enjoy a wee trot outside each day, provided the roads aren’t too salty for their exposed paws.  I delight in a rhythmic jaunt where I can get lost in my thoughts.

A few days ago, the sun did shine for a day. (read: a brighter milky-pearlescence).  My hub and I went to the local nature center for some sketching time.  There are all sorts of very still, very dead, yet somehow quite animated taxidermy-style animals there and we took some time to draw them.

There was woodsmoke in the air there that day, and a sweetness as well, signaling maple sugaring season.  We enjoyed learning about how our native forebears likely processed, consumed and traded the sweet, valuable maple syrup and crystalline sugar using handmade tools they gathered from the earth and adapted to their needs.  I did not take a picture.

We discussed that day of how sad things have been (how sad I’ve been) and we talked also of how mood-changing a song might be when it catches our ears just so.  My Hub found one such song called I Don’t Recall done up so very beautifully by Lavender Diamond. They have a new video….

We were intrigued by the biography of this project to be found on Spotify…..

“The folk delight that is Lavender Diamond originally came to life in Bird Songs of the Bauharoque,  a punk operetta inspired by the work of American painter/architect Paul Laffoley.  Vocalist Becky Stark wrote and created the piece with a friend while living in Providence, RI, and starred as Lavender herself, a winsome part bird/part human who wants peace on earth.”

Hub wondered at which point in the song she was human and which bit might find her in bird form – to which I argued, why can’t she be both?  Both, at the same time.  animal.  woman.

I’ve been pondering a great bit lately this whole notion of polarity.  Political polarity, yes of course.  But also the light vs. the shadow sides of ourselves.  The Masculine and Feminine bits too, always in a dance, yes?  And even to how we react to times of great strain.   I am intrigued (and often infuriated) by the discussion of a perceived necessity to choose one thing over another.  Why can’t we be Both.  I am both Woman and Animal.  I am Light as well as Shadow.  I enjoy tapping into both the (traditionally regarded) Masculine AND Feminine within my whole self.  When I allow this, I am more wholly alive as a total human being.  Perhaps like Lavender herself.

Music has indeed been a balm and an inspiration when Mother Nature is resting and doesn’t give us much to go on in the way of sketchable stuff.

Though if one pays close attention…..

One of my favorite flute teachers shared a song the other day which caught my ear, as songs of old often do.

It put me in mind of leggy hares to be found across the pond.  so different from our own bulky little bunnies.  so I sketched one up.

As I continue to climb out of the dark hole of my recent state, I am grateful for things which catch my ear.  The music often being the first and foremost quality of a song shared.  If I get a tune rolling round in my head, words or no, that can be a good thing.  It can, indeed, change the tone of an entire day for someone sitting rather on the edges of things emotionally speaking.

But sometimes, what catches my ear is deeper still than just a catchy tune.  Sometimes, as I listen to a newly found thing, often on obsessive repeat, (yes it’s true, and part of my charm, I like to think) the words partnering with the music to enchant the heart can act like will-o-the-wisp.  Lights in the darkness, taking me down an enchanted lane to other worlds….

This morning the lovely Lin-Manuel Miranda (you know, of Hamilton fame?) shared the music of one Ali Dineen in the form of this song in particular, which much like the Lavender Diamond song above, has a happy feel to it.  (and, turns out, Lin was one of Ali’s 7th grade teachers.  Can you imagine?)

This song led me down the proverbial musical rabbit hole of her music in general and I was not to be disappointed.  (Thank you Lin!) Little lyrical snippets pulled at my heart strings as I jogged the paths here amidst this gray, cold village here in Ohio.

“Somewhere else there were
miracles, carnivals, and a space in the air
only your bones could fill.”

Just weeks away, I am reminded by this tune, is a trip south to Antigua, Guatemala where I will sink into constant art-making for a solid week.  This makes me happy beyond imagining.  And reminds me that winter will pass.  In spite of how hard things can seem just now, personally, nationally,  globally.

“Spring it brought madness and chaos and song
the wind growing warm, the days growing long
I watched the world blow through your mind
we stooped low to pick up what it left behind
Scattered stories of our country’s childhood,
though we’re deaf to their sounds
We’re trying to stand up straight
but we don’t know what’s weighing us down.”

“go when your feet are restless
go when you hear a faraway song
heed what your bones are saying
don’t wait for your saint to come….”

“go where your name is spoken
stay when you feel like standing still
no one can guide your footsteps
so walk where you will “

So, yes, later this spring, I will travel to Guatemala, where once upon a time, my name was spoken.  I have been trying to tap into that little gypsy girl who lived everywhere and nowhere.  The me who spoke Spanish “like a native” (my mom’s words) and who seemed to feel at home anywhere.  I seem to have lost track of her over the years but I am keen to get reacquainted.  I’ve been taking a formal Spanish course locally and it’s been more difficult that I had expected.

We conjugate a good bit, which I will admit, I don’t know how to do adequately in English, in spite of my ability to speak the language here.  I am banking on a small faith that this class will warm me up to hear my name spoken on the warm volcanic breezes in the Highlands of Guatemala.  I’m told I went there as a girl when my Nana Campbell came to town.  I do not remember.

But I do remember what calls to my soul:

Music.

Art.

Stories.

Other Artists.

(we are all artists)

Thank you for reading…..

~a

ps.  do go toss a few coins into the hats of any or all of these amazing artists.  they deserve it.

 

 

 

 

What comes next?

As I have mentioned, little snippets of Hamilton just seem to hit the nail on the head when it comes to recent political events here in this divided country of  ours.

“…You were mine to subdue
Well, even despite our estrangement, I’ve got
A small query for you:

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead
?

You’re on your own
Awesome. Wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?

Oceans rise
Empires fall

It’s much harder when it’s all your call….”

Yesterday here in this fair Queen City of Cincinnati, Ohio, we marched.  I must remind my more conservative readers (if you are even still with me here) that this river town is not an ‘elite coastal city’ which some claim are the only places in which  marching and peaceful protesting are happening.  We are an average blue city amidst the VERY red state of Ohio.  And like many cities around the world we marched en masse in the thousands.  It was remarkable and emboldening.

And here is why we marched.

(if anyone knows the source of this meme, please let me know so I can link to it. And if you are unfamiliar with what this image is referring to,  here’s a brief start: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images)

We marched because this election was so much more than Democracy gone awry for our ‘side’.  Shear human decency was pulled through the proverbial ringer this past election season and we did not come out of it the better for our efforts.  Many were shocked.  But some of us saw it coming down the pike.  And now here we are.

It’s important to have water to drink at a march because it can go on for hours. This sticker was designed by my friend Kim Rae Taylor and you can get yours in t-shirt form here
From the Scottish TV pages. Sometimes the very best commentary comes from across the pond!

We are, it would seem, in a very strange ‘interactive virtual reality project’.  And so we marched.  On the shoulders of giants.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

– Maya Angelou

Protesters crafted clever signage to carry along the route.

Saw this version on Twitter, but many like it here in our own march
This sign was posted on Brene Brown’s Instagram feed and as a card carrying introvert who loathes crowd energy, I for one couldn’t agree more.
My step-mama Sue, an activist and extremely politically engaged at all times, is an inspiration to follow.
This amazing design has been doing the rounds and I saw it on a number of protest signs.  Far as I know, this is the source… http://ladieswhodesign.com/
I sincerely hope JK Rowling knows she has inspired a new generation of activists. Harry Potter is so relevant. It makes my heart happy.
And the other side of the Harry Potter inspired protest swag.
Even the little’s had something to say. The other side of this sign had this child’s scribbles in marker. Her parents translated her scribbles for all to read and understand.
My friend Julie Persons got Claudia involved too.  Will you look at that tiny hat!?  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/adventuresofclaudia

This day was billed as a day for ‘Women’s Marches’ all around the world.  But, as the protesters did chant, “Women’s rights are human rights.”  The day was more than just for or about women.  We were protesting everything the Trump administration stands for.  Black Lives Matter activists were present and marching in solidarity, as were those standing up for the rights of Muslims here in our community, and the rights of those with disabilities.  Those who are worried for the future of public education under the person nominated for Education Secretary were there as well with their concerns and signs. Entire families were present.  My own included three generations.  There were tiny babies and the elderly in wheel chairs or with canes.  We all helped each other along the cobblestones of Over The Rhine.  It was beautiful.

“The thing about “snowflakes” is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you.”

~George Takei

We marched this day to build one another up for what will be four years of chipping away at the rights of many, in favor of lining the pockets of those already too rich for normal people to even conceive.

A t-shirt design I did awhile back for the beautiful song above by my dear friend Kim Taylor. (yes, another brilliantly talented friend called Kim Taylor.  I adore them both!)

Just last night I attended a musical birthday celebration and in the wings we whispered about the success of the marches around the world, while simultaneously lamenting the changes already affecting those most vulnerable in our community.  One friend, a physician, works with many immigrants and desperately poor folks on the fringe who are frightened to even show identification to their medical caregivers under this new administration.  Her office is mostly federally funded.  They may not even be present to give care if the promised cuts come along.  Another friend, recipient of an FHA loan to purchase her home was emailed that very day of an increase in her mortgage of $150 per month.  With a swish of a pen stroke, Trump signed away Obama’s 1/2% tax break, meaning many families will have to scramble just to pay for their homes now.  $150 is a ton of money for a working family.  But what would Mr. Trump know of such troubles as a billionaire, eh?  Sadly, many folks who voted him into office will get a similar email.  I wonder if they can make ends meet.

Which leads me to my original question.  What comes next? Marches are all well and good and definitely were a shot of desperately needed hope for many of us who lean toward the progressive end of the spectrum.  But they are not enough.  We have a lot of work to do.  I will not say that marches don’t make change.  I believe they do.  And so does Rebecca Solnit.  I recently read her book Hope in the Dark and in it she makes a case for the fact that even the smallest acts of protest can go on to have lives of their own and spark other action elsewhere which we may never witness.  Yesterday’s protests may possibly not yield the large benefits we all envision until generations from now, but we mustn’t sit back and wait and see.  There are things we can do here and now – ways we can ride this wave of rebellion.

There are concrete things we can do to stay engaged in this protest and not lose steam. More info here

Local government is where seeds of change begin to unfurl and grow and so we can begin there.  We must also stay on our national and state level representatives to remind them we are watching their every political move.  Post cards, phone calls.  Conversations with our neighbors.  We must continue to rise up as one voice in defense of the defenseless.

“Rise up
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s got to rise up
Tell your sister that she’s got to rise up.”

~Lin Manuel Miranda

And through all of this, we artists must continue to find balance amidst this chaos in order to tend to our own quiet work, equally as powerful in making change as all the political actions.  In recent days, two of my past Taos Workshop participants told me that taking my sketch journaling class had literally changed their lives.  I don’t share this here to brag or even to market the class, but rather to marvel.  To remind myself how important the work is.  To remind myself, and you dear readers, how crucial our individual voices are in this tumultuous time.  Even if they feel small or quiet.

“I also wanted to write to let you know, ( months after the fact) how your workshop in Taos last summer transformed my life. At the risk of sounding corny, it lifted me out of the cocoon that I had been hiding in for so long. After coming back from Taos, my sense of adventure and joy was restored. I’ve got to tell you how major this is especially for a girl who struggles with depression and anxiety. You are making a difference. You certainly made a difference in mine. Your workshop is so reinvigorating and life giving to the soul. Friends and family have even taken notice of how I’ve taken flight after the workshop. It fed the starving creative in me which is who I am in my deep core. Fast forward four months, I finally quit the job I hated and decided to go back to school full time to pursue my dream of becoming a web designer and user experience guru. Butterfly effect much?”

~2016 Taos class participant.  <3  quote used here with permission.

So go forth and doodle.  go forth and write your poems of love and rage.  go forth and run for local office.  go forth and get to know that Trump loving neighbor or family member, and if they are open to it, (and you can stomach it) engage them in conversation.  go forth and build this great nation (who is still, “young scrappy and hungry” compared to most of the rest of the world) with liberty and justice for all.